The Great Eddie Pellagrini:
I knew Eddie Pellagrini for a long time. Unfortunately he passed away five years ago, and the baseball world has missed him ever since. However, his contributions to baseball were many, as he coached Boston College for many years and helped many young men become better ball players and better people.
I am in Boston to speak at a fundraiser tonight for Boston College baseball, and to remember my good friend Eddie. He coached the Eagles from 1957-88 and amassed 359 victories and three appearances in the College World Series. Eddie not only coached, but he played in the Major Leagues for eight years with Boston, St. Louis, Philadelphia, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh.
I remember a great story Eddie once told me. Like mine his parents were from Italy and didn’t know anything about baseball. One day Eddie was being honored with Eddie Pellagrini Day at the ballpark. He invited his father, and in broken English his father said, “Base-a-ball? You have-a to work Eddie!”
His father decided to go after all to support his son. Eddie had a brutal day at the plate, but after the game was over his father was ecstatic.
“Eddie,” he exclaimed. “I am-a so proud of you!”
“What do you mean pop?” he asked.
“You-a were the best-a player out there today! You hit-a the ball-a higher than anyone else!”
He was talking about when Eddie popped up to the catcher!
But Eddie learned a lesson that day from his father that he used many times over the years; treat your players like family and always be supportive of them through good times and bad times.
Players don’t need you when they hit home runs and doubles, and drive in the winning run. They need you to put your arm around them when they go 0-4 at the plate or make a crucial error in the field.
Eddie treated everybody like family. He was a consummate teacher and a friend to all, especially a fellow Italian. I loved Eddie and miss him tremendously. He made his mark at Boston College as a mentor for youngsters and a Hall of Fame coach; just ask anyone that knew him.